, Salem, MA

Local News

June 19, 2013

Senate proposes changes in welfare


A recent state audit found more than 1,000 cases of welfare benefits being paid to people who had died or people using Social Security numbers of people who have died. While Gov. Deval Patrick’s administration disputed those figures, the audit and other recent investigations have amped up the pressure to overhaul the system.

Tarr said the reform proposal contains some critical reforms to address fraud and abuse, although it does not contain additional reforms that were offered during Senate budget deliberations.

Tarr and his fellow Republicans plan to file several amendments before today’s noontime deadline, including proposals to:

Impose mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients who are arrested or convicted of a drug-related crime and remove cash benefits for those who test positive for drugs

Eliminate cash benefits for high-risk users.

Ensure that people who are in the country illegally cannot displace people who are here legally on the waiting list for state subsidized housing.

Suspend the liquor and Lottery licenses of businesses that repeatedly allow prohibited items to be purchased with EBT funds.

Require non-EBT card holders using cards on behalf of another to be identified, given prior authorization and have their use of these cards tracked.

Require all waivers and extension requests to go through the DTA Commissioner’s Office by taking these decisions out of the hands of caseworkers.

Direct DTA to develop and implement an inventory control system for EBT cards.

“We have been awaiting the opportunity for a full and formal debate on welfare reform, and it appears that we will have that debate on Thursday,” said Tarr. “We want to leave no stone unturned in the quest to restore integrity and accountability and transparency to the welfare system on behalf of the people who truly need and deserve benefits and the taxpayers who pay for these benefits.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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